For numerous employers, one of the unexpected but desirable results of giving employees lots of tasks is to prevent them from having time to think about themselves.
That's why many people are stuck at a job they hate for years or get knocked into quitting after severe burnout.
Surely staying at a job your dread deteriorates your mental health way before you start to realize it.
But it gets to your body before your mind if you listen closely.
Your head and muscles ache
Have you ever felt like someone is knocking on your head with a sledgehammer at the end of the day? Or how your neck, shoulders, forearms, and thighs feel like you just spent eight hours at the gym doing intense workouts?
David Munson, a rehabilitation therapist at TriHealth Corporate Health explains this condition:
"When stress levels are high, our brain sends a signal to the nerves to go into protection mode and our nerves activate our muscles to tighten and increase their tone."
At one of my previous jobs, there were days when my whole body felt like it wasn't mine and all I wanted to do was lie down on my bed without changing or eating first. I had never felt so exhausted in my entire life and I once stood and danced for seven hours at an EDM festival with loud music blasting at me without breaks.
At first, I thought my body was reacting to a change of environment and working pace.
But as I kept suffering from headaches and muscle pain continuously for over a week, I knew I had to call it quits.
Your sleeping routine gets messed up
My coping mechanism for stress is sleep.
It worked because most jobs I took were remote so I had the freedom of no supervision. A 30-minute nap during noon could turn into three hours.
The more stressed out I was, the more I slept.
It quickly disrupted my usual routine.
I used to go to bed around 11 PM. Now, after a pandemic, a huge thesis and so many demanding jobs, I cannot tuck in before 2 PM.
But it could have been worse. If I had stayed at a job I hated for long, I probably would not need to sleep at night at all since my eight hours of sleep would be divided into smaller chunks during the day.
You experience stress nausea and vomiting
On some rare occasions, the immense pressure made it impossible to sleep for me. Instead, it made me feel nauseated to the point of almost throwing up my lunch.
Yes, stress nausea and stress vomiting are real. And they are a huge deal too.
Stress upsets your digestive system. Your anxiety can translate into stress nausea and vomiting. If it becomes a regular issue, it will mess with your eating habit and have a damaging effect on your body. Your bowel habits will change. Your weight will fluctuate. You'll feel irritated more easily and frequently.
If you experience multiple stress-induced nausea episodes, it's high time you went to see a doctor before it gets worse.
How to deal with this
I'd advise you to leave.
All of these symptoms are your body screaming at you telling you to quit. Rest. Then apply for a new job. It's not the end of the world though it might seem that way.
It's the root cause you need to fix, not only the symptoms.
But then, if you cannot switch jobs, take breaks. Lots of them.
You have made your body go into protection mode for quite some time now. It's your turn to give it some time off.